With the change of season bringing with it shorter days and cooler mornings it can be easy to fall out of love with your current wellness regime. “Finding the motivation becomes harder as the nights draw in, so changing up your routine to include mood-boosting workouts, nutritious food and helpful rituals is vital for combating fatigue and keeping your energy levels high. This is even more important if you struggle with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD),” says PT and wellness expert Rachael Sacerdoti.
Seasonal Affective Disorder is a type of depression that occurs at specific times of the year, typically during the autumn and winter months when there is less sunlight. The lack of sunlight exposure can affect our circadian rhythm and lead to a range of symptoms, including low energy, mood swings, and a general sense of lethargy. While SAD can be challenging, adopting certain wellness habits can help mitigate its impact on your mental health.
Here are 10 daily habits to incorporate into your routine if you suffer from SAD.
Morning Light Exposure: Make it a daily habit to spend 20-30 minutes in the morning sunlight or use a light therapy box. Position it at eye level while you read, have breakfast, or engage in a calming activity to kickstart your circadian rhythm.
HIIT Exercise Breaks: Integrate short, high-intensity exercise breaks into your daily schedule. These can be as brief as 10-15 minutes and might include activities like quick sprints, jumping jacks, or a fast-paced workout video.
Omega-3-Rich Snacks: Include omega-3-rich snacks in your daily diet. Keep a stash of walnuts or chia seeds to add to your yoghurt or oatmeal. Small dietary changes can have a cumulative positive effect on mood over time.
Mindful Breathing Moments: Set aside a few minutes each day for mindful breathing exercises. This can be done during a break at work, while commuting, or before bedtime. Focus on deep, intentional breaths to centre yourself and reduce stress.
Cosy Corners at Home: Create cosy corners in your home using soft lighting and comfortable elements. Ensure that you have a designated space where you can relax and unwind, fostering a sense of comfort and warmth.
Micro-Goals for Tasks: Break down daily tasks into micro-goals. Instead of focusing on a large project, set small, achievable goals for each day. Celebrate the completion of these micro-goals to foster a sense of accomplishment.
Daily Cognitive Check-In: Engage in a brief daily cognitive check-in. Take a moment to reflect on your thoughts, be it through journaling or just finding a quiet moment and challenge any negative patterns. This self-awareness practice can be a powerful tool in managing the mental aspects of SAD.
Connect with Nature: Make it a habit to connect with nature each day. Whether it’s a short walk in a nearby park, a moment to appreciate your garden, or simply stepping outside to get fresh air, spending time in nature has been shown to boost mood and reduce stress. This daily habit provides a refreshing break and helps counter the effects of Seasonal Affective Disorder by exposing you to natural light and the calming influence of the outdoors.
Plan Daily Winter Activities: Infuse your daily routine with winter activities you enjoy. Whether it’s a brisk winter walk tuning into a podcast you love, trying a new seasonal recipe, or engaging in a winter sport, having a daily activity to look forward to can positively impact your mood.
Dim Lights Before Bed: Develop an evening routine where you dim the lights in your home an hour before bedtime. Engage in relaxing activities, such as reading a book or taking a warm bath, to signal to your body that it’s time to wind down.